Keeneland’s marquee Kentucky Derby 2012 prep was run on Saturday and Dullahan beat juvenile champ Hansen in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes.
G1 Blue Grass (4-14-12): 98 BSF (Dullahan)
Hansen relaxed from an outer post in the G3 Gotham but went straight to the front from post 4 on Saturday, carving out solid fractions of :23.10, :46.64, and 1:11.32. Outsiders Politicallycorrect, Midnight Crooner, and Hero of Order gave futile chase.
The 2-year-old champion opened up a commanding 2-1/2 length lead in the stretch but Dullahan was slowly creeping up from 11th after a 1/4, 10th, after a 1/2, and 9th after six panels. The son of Even The Score made a sustained three furlong run under Kent Desormeaux and had dead aim on Hansen in the lane.
Dullahan had the momentum and swept past Hansen to win by 1-1/4 lengths for trainer Dale Romans. He completed his nine furlong trip in 1:47.94 and paid $8.40 as the second betting choice. Hansen was clearly second best, followed by longshot stablemate Gung Ho and late runner Holy Candy.
Howe Great was an even 5th for Graham Motion, followed by Tampa Bay Derby hero Prospective, Heavy Breathing, Midnight Crooner, Scatman, Ever So Lucky, Russian Greek, Politicallycorrect, and Hero of Order.
Dullahan seems as though he can run all day and continues to improve for Romans. He has two solid nine furlong preps under his belt this year and looms a late running threat on the first Saturday in May. Both of his career wins occurred in Grade 1 races at Keeneland and his 0-for-3 conventional dirt record under the Twin Spires does not seem to bode well for his Kentucky Derby chances.
Hansen dropped two of his three Derby preps this year after going 3-f0r-3 as a juvenile. He surprisingly seemed willing to relax a bit in the G3 Gotham but was back to aggressive early tactics in Lexington on Saturday. The Derby pace could be on the quick side with the likes of Bodemeister, Hansen, I’ll Have Another, Secret Circle, and Take Charge Indy mixing it up early.
Blue Grass Stakes Grade: B (85 out of 100)